Chicago hotel owners are holding out for a post-COVID comeback

“At the start of the pandemic there was just a lot more uncertainty than we have now. We’re at the point now where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he says. “I think there’s a general perception that banks just punt on this stuff. And they don’t.”

Even if weary lenders eventually enact a financial reckoning on bad loans, discounts may not be as drastic because of the deep pool of buyers. Private real estate funds targeting opportunistic and distressed assets were sitting on nearly $125 billion ready to be deployed at the end of December, 50 percent more than the dry powder available at the end of 2010 coming out of the financial crisis, according to financial data tracker Preqin.

Those buyers and potential sellers agree travel will come back with a vengeance, but they’re not on the same page as to when or how bad their losses would be in the interim. That’s leaving a sizable gap between what either thinks hotels are worth today, says Jim Costello, senior vice president at RCA.

“If I’m an owner knowing that six months from now we may be back to normal . . . unless

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As their family (and their landscape) grows, the owners of Zook & Oleson Gardening adapt their spaces for plants and people

THE TREES ARE big, the house is small (but very cool) and the gardens are always growing.

Ben Oleson and Jen Zook are owners of Zook & Oleson Gardening (zookandolesongardening.com) and parents to Indie (15) and Jesse (12). Two dogs, Joaquin and Fiona, and an “ancient” cat named Vincent, complete the household.

An avid plantsman, Oleson’s approach to garden design is grounded in plants. “I’m a gardener. If you want a garden, I’m your guy,” he says. “I only design what I can install — and I’m not that handy.”

I politely disagree as we walk among several Ben-built projects on the family’s large corner lot in West Seattle. The landscape is abundantly planted but prioritizes family life. Built features, like decking, an interesting dog-friendly fence (it has windows at canine height) and outbuilding storage solutions for the active family’s outdoor gear, are integrated with ornamental shrubs and perennials, edible gardens and berries.

Bisecting exuberantly planted garden beds, an informal boardwalk leads to a citrus yellow front door. The canopy of a truly impressive silver maple (Acer saccharinum) envelops the front garden and bustles with life. “The tree is a community of animals, the only ecosystem

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